Two tried and true methods to make social media impact SEO

While social signals may not be directly factored into Google's ranking algorithm, columnist Dan Bagby explains that social media can still be used to enhance SEO.

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Much has been written about the interplay between social media and search engine optimization. I have seen a few tips and tricks to use social media to help get content indexed and possibly see other SEO benefits, but the best way I have found to make social media work toward SEO is to use it the way it is already being used.

Many brands use social media to build a brand, deliver great customer service or develop relationships. You can use these same focuses to have a significant effect on SEO as well.

Build your brand through social media for SEO

While the size and reputation of the brand are not direct ranking factors, they can have an indirect effect on SEO efforts. Use your social presence to improve your branding to have this positive effect on SEO.

Growing your online footprint

Rand Fishkin of Moz does a great job of explaining how a strong brand can impact SEO. Overall, people are more likely to link to a page on a site they know and trust. Having a strong and active social following can instantly create credibility to help gain these links to your content.

Another direct way having strong engagement on social media can help SEO is the simple fact that your tweets and shares are going to get in front of more eyes and are thus more likely to get links.

Use social media to improve customer service

Today, customers go online to make complaints or ask questions about a product. There are many companies responding well to this, which results not only in improved customer satisfaction but in SEO success, too.

Use social media to really “wow” the customer. There are many large brands that have been doing this well. Not only can this build your following, but it can also amplify your reach and even build links.

One example of this is Delta Hotels. When one customer went to Twitter to point out the poor view from his room, they stepped in and went above and beyond to try to make it a positive experience for him. In the end, he was so wowed that he ended up writing a blog post about it, giving that location a link.

You can also use Twitter to answer questions that are unrelated to complaints and carry those Q&As over to your site. Once you have seen a question come up a few times, answer it on your site. You can then reply to tweets with a link to the answer.

Remember, you don’t have to answer questions specifically asked about your business. For example, if you are a home improvement contractor, you can write content that answers questions related to renovations you find on Twitter. Not only can this content garner traffic from the users you respond to, but it is a great opportunity to rank for non-branded keywords in search.

Leverage relationships with social media

With all that being said, links don’t usually happen by simply getting more people to see the content. You need to nudge other content creators and curators to get the links. Focus on building relationships and connecting with others, and use that in ways that can be used to create SEO success.

First, build up the social media profiles you would like to use, then begin work on building relationships. Start following the people you would like to connect with. Engage with their posts by retweeting, favoriting or commenting. If you have something relevant to say, don’t be shy. When you see great content or find something helpful, go the extra mile to reach out and email them to let them know your thoughts.

This is the more time-consuming way of making social media work to help with SEO, but once you have an engaged following and have made some genuine connections, even if it’s a small number of people, you will have a foundation you can build on and use over and over. Here are a few ways to use your active social media presence to create SEO wins.

Create ego bait

This isn’t new and has been overused in a few industries, but it’s still worth mentioning. One way to get someone’s attention is to mention them within content and let them know through social media. 

Ask for contributions to your content

Work with other content creators or influencers by asking for their opinions. Keep it simple at first. For example, if you want to rank for the phase, “Home Improvement Projects for Beginners,” you might ask bloggers who have DIY content what they would do. After the list is curated and you have added your own thoughts, let the people you mentioned know — and don’t be afraid to ask for a link.

Work together to create and promote related content

Once you have developed relationships further, you can begin to collaborate with other content creators and coordinate on content promotion.

Building on the example above, you can share the results of your initial piece of content with the other contributors and suggest working together more. You could follow up with a series of “how-to” posts explaining the individual home improvement projects in more detail, publish them on different sites, then interlink these posts with the original one.

Ask for comment

With a decent following on Twitter, you can promote content and not only drive traffic but also ask for comments and feedback on your posts. This will create more content on the page, potentially increasing the likelihood of ranking for long-tail queries. If the comments are made within the social media platform (which often happens), update the post to feature the best comments, and let the commenters know.

Final thoughts

Overall, I don’t see simply posting to social media as a way to achieve strong results in sustained organic traffic; but by leveraging social media platforms well, you can contribute to the long-term success of your SEO efforts.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Dan Bagby
Dan is an experienced online marketer focused on SEO. He is currently leading SEO strategy for Whole Foods Market.

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